How To Install Brother networked printers

A recent update in Clear Linux might make adding printers a miserable experience. I stumbled upon a somewhat simple solution that worked for me:

  • You might need this: sudo swupd bundle-add hardware-printing
  • And definitely this: sudo swupd bundle-add package-utils (so you can install RPMs.)

Both of the printers are by Brother, who has a long history of great linux support. You can download their drivers as rpm’s from the printer’s model page. Below commands at the # prompt are as root user, you can get there via sudo su

MFC-J995DW

# rpm -ihv --nodeps mfcj995dwpdrv-1.0.5-0.i386.rpm
– confirm ppd file is at /usr/share/cups/model/Brother/brother_mfcj995dw_printer_en.ppd
– remove the printer from CUPS admin via the web interface localhost:631
# lpadmin -p J995Color -E -v socket://192.168.1.108 -P /usr/share/cups/model/Brother/brother_mfcj995dw_printer_en.ppd

HL-L2370DW

# rpm -ihv --nodeps hll2370dwpdrv-4.0.0-1.i386.rpm
– verify your ppd location: /usr/share/cups/model/Brother/brother-HLL2370DW-cups-en.ppd
– remove the printer from CUPS admin via the web interface localhost:631
# lpadmin -p HL-L2370DW -E -v socket://192.168.1.11 -P /usr/share/cups/model/Brother/brother-HLL2370DW-cups-en.ppd

Edited to add the part about removing the initially installed printers from CUPS. Doing the rpm installs the drivers and also makes printer show up in CUPS, however, it always fails silently. lpadmin installing the printer works correctly.

I’ve bought and recommended Brother printers in the past, partly because they generally worked well with Linux without absolutely having to use the manufacturer-provided drivers.

These particular two printers don’t show up in the Open Printing database, though, so it may be strictly necessary to install the binary drivers. Two cautions, though:

  1. Installing RPMs built for another distro may cause unexpected issues. They can write files into paths that swupd controls, potentially overwriting Clear Linux distribution files, or potentially will be overwritten during a Clear Linux update. Compiled items (dynamic libraries or executables) might expect to link against specific versions of libraries that we may not provide.
  2. rpm -ivh is not the best way to install files in Clear Linux; it attempts to manage an RPM database (which we don’t use) and may execute pre/post scripts (that do unexpected things). A slightly safer approach is to extract the content into a temporary directory, then move the files into appropriate, user-managed locations

For example:

mkdir /tmp/brother
cd /tmp/brother
rpm2cpio <rpm> | cpio -idmv
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For many Brother printers, it may be sufficient to configure an appropriate ipp:// path (e.g. ipp://192.168.1.68/ipp/port1), and use a generic PCL driver.